Vancouver Canucks vs. Boston Bruins
Vancouver hosts Boston in game one of the Stanley Cup finals. The Canucks are -180 favorites over the Bruins with the over/under goal total set at 5.5.
Vancouver has finally reached the Stanley Cup finals after a 17 year wait to square off with Boston . The Bruins haven’t been here since 1990 so we have two teams that have had lengthy waiting periods between visits. Even though the Canucks won the President’s Trophy for the best record in the league during the regular season that has been no guarantee of success in the playoffs with the winner of the trophy hoisting the Cup eight times in nearly 25 years. An interesting side note to this match up from a Vancouver perspective is that a Canadian team last won in 1993 when Montreal defeated the Los Angeles Kings. However that probably means little to Vancouver as they are still searching for their first ever Stanley Cup while Boston hasn’t won since 1972 and have lost five consecutive trips since.
These teams met just once in the regular season with the Bruins winning 3-1 on the road while also winning three of the past four match ups as well. Whether that means much right now is debatable but Vancouver does own the home ice advantage and have played very well at home in this postseason with a 7-3 record. The flip side is the Bruins have been solid on the road at 5-3 and have often looked better away from home than when on their own ice. The Canucks reached the Cup finals by virtue of defeating San Jose in five games led by the scoring of Henrik Sedin who totaled 12 points on 11 helpers and a goal and overall leads the postseason with 19 assists and a pair of tallies in 18 games. Twin brother Daniel has is next in line with eight goals and eight assists while Alexandre Burrows (7 G-7 A) and Ryan Kessler (7 G-11 A) have steady contributors as well.
Goalie Roberto Luongo has been a key figure to the Canucks run as he has been solid after suffering through a disappointing first round versus Chicago and has gone 12-6 with a 2.29 goals against average in 18 games. The Vancouver power play has been productive going 18 of 60 but the penalty kill is 14 of 72 and was a problem against the Sharks who scored on seven of 23 tries. The Canucks face a Boston club looking to erase the memory of a collapse in the Eastern Conference semifinals to Philadelphia in a series they led 3-1.The Bruins showed a lot of scoring punch to ouster Tampa Bay in the conference championship but this team’s success generally is rooted in defense. Despite 21 goals versus the Lightning and an average of 3.22 goals per game the Bruins have surrendered just 2 ½ scores per game.
David Krejci has paced the Boston attack with ten tallies and seven assists with Nathan Horton right on his heels (8 G-9 A). Despite sitting out the opening two games against Tampa Bay with a concussion Patrick Bergeron is third in scoring with 15 points (4 G-11 A) but Boston has five other players with at least ten points so this team has shown plenty of balance and depth at the offensive end of the ice. An interesting side note to Bergeron missing the first two games of the conference championship was a chance for rookie Tyler Sequin to get on the ice for the first time and he didn’t disappoint with a trio of goals and three helpers. The play of goalie Tim Thomas will be under the microscope after an up and down series against TB in which the Lightning scored 21 times. He did post a pair of shutouts in the series and has gone 12-6 in the playoffs with a 2.29 GAA with .929 save percentage overall.
Vancouver is a team that can both score and keep the puck out of the back of their net while Boston has the reputation for being primarily a defense first, grind it out type team. A critical match up will be the Bruins penalty kill that allowed 13 scores on 63 tries against a very dangerous Canucks power play. Two of the best defensive teams in the NHL points to under for me.